The Schmallenberg virus is the latest cause for concern for various public health organisations across the U.K. Named after the German town where the virus was first detected, it appears to affect cows, goats and sheep, causing birth defects and stillbirths.
The virus is thought to be transmitted from animal to animal by the midges that feed on their blood, and this seems to be the most likely explanation as to how the virus has arrived in the U.K.
While this unwelcome arrival may be a cause for concern for farmers around the country, particularly at this time of year, there has been no evidence that the virus can be transmitted to humans.
This should quell public fears somewhat, although as with any previously unknown virus, there are many aspects of the illness that are new to the authorities. The Food Standards Agency is advocating extra caution in terms of food hygiene practices and urging people simply to respect the measures that can reduce the risk if contamination and infection.
This is particularly important for businesses that sell food products to the public, and employers should ensure that their employees have received adequate food safety training.